Sublime Optimism

Could have been entitled, A Scientific Justification for belief in sublimity. As studies of the attitudes and beliefs of individuals show, if nothing else, people are very optimistic. Despite all the daily trials and tribulations that life will throw in the face of any individual, people will for the very most part have an optimistic attitude about how things will turn out. This does not mean, it is important to state, that they are optimistic about each and every event that occurs in their life, just optimistic in general about how it will turn out. Interestingly most people are not proven wrong about this assumption in the end. Surveys constantly show to the contrary, that most, when asked about their perception of the total experience of life will say things indicating essentially that it was an amazing, sublime adventure and many even say that if they had the opportunity to change anything, they would change nothing.

What can explain this overwhelming sense of optimism that is apparently sweeping over the earth’s population? Some would say that this sense of optimism is just nature’s way of having people fool themselves into believing that everything is pleasant so as to motivate them to go out and do well in a world that they otherwise wouldn’t really care too much about improving. However, this argument, that an optimistic approach to life is just an illusion, seems to fall short because it ignores the fact that most perceptions that we experience about the world are not an illusion. Quite honestly the same argument could be made about basically any positive experience that we have. If I wanted to make a similar, but false, argument I could say simply that everything you see is in a sense edited only for positive content. I also would say there are actually millions of lethal bengal tigers right in your field of view who (for very hypothetical purposes) can only eat you if you become consciously aware of them.  You don’t see them simply because your brain edits things for content to keep you happy, motivated, and uneaten

Now, however unlikely, this argument for an invisible threat may be true, just as the thought that your belief’s are edited for content may be true, but neither is a real scientific argument in that neither deals directly and only with the facts that are presented to you. The bad news for invisible tiger fans is that a scientific mind should not and cannot buy into the argument for their existence in the way it is framed. The good news, however is that the argument that says positive beliefs are only a mental pacification system also must be disregarded for the same reasons.

"Wait", a critic of this theory might say. Maybe an optimistic attitude toward life itself is a different kind of positive belief as compared to some less significant positive beliefs.  Maybe people have evolved in a way so that optimism is necessicary for the mind to function.  To this contention I would simply say that there are definitely many high functioning pessimists out there, so I dont think optimism can be really be considered a necessity.

This leaves us at the quite interesting realization that your beliefs actually are your beliefs. Like all other conclusions in life, this one was arrived at by your mind engaging in a regular component detection process, which is simply the mind’s ability to identify specific facts about the world it inhabits. Furthermore, when you really are able to discover a sense of peace regarding your impression of the world you should feel good about it, not uncertain, as the above component detection process is seldom wrong. Importantly, I am not saying it is never wrong, just seldom. Think about just some ordinary conclusions drawn day to day. As you read this essay your mind has likely assessed you are in a room, that it has a given size, that it contains some objects, and made a million other observations that you’re only partially aware of until you think of them directly. If you were to investigate the truthfulness about what your mind has assessed your environment to be you will find that it was almost completely correct. The room likely will be found to exist, is size probably will be very close to what you had expected, and the objects that you see probably are actually there. Further if you look out the window and see a field containing millions of blades of grass, upon investigation you will probably find that they are there and that each one is quite real.

In summation I want to reiterate the main focus of this essay, that the mind is not in the business of fooling itself. So, is this recognition of the reality of this observation actually also a bad thing in that it validates the reality of people who have negative assessments of things just as much as for people who have positive perceptions? I would contend that this is not the case and suggest that anyone, if they really are true to themselves, will realize that they actually are in touch with a positive outlook. What a negative perception of reality actually indicates, I contend, is the mind being shrouded and concealed from oneself. What I hope that this essay can do is lift one major shroud that bears down on many minds, this being the shroud that any positive belief is simply a fiction. When one reads the words of this essay and can realize the necessary falsity of the previous statement, then they will quite quickly be able to perceive themselves and reality in a more clear and a more positive light.

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